Karishma Patel, a 37-year-old personal injury trial lawyer from Houston has become the first Indian-American contestant to star on CBS’ competitive reality TV series, “Survivor: Island of the Idols.” The 39th season, with new group of castaways vying for the $1 million grand prize, premiered on CBS on Sept. 25.
On her profile on the CBS website, Patel describes herself as reliable, impulsive, and charismatic. She said she will survive on the show because she feels like she was born to play this game. “I’ve always craved challenges that help me learn more about myself, and I know deep down that I do have the physical, mental, and social skills to outlast, outwit, and outplay anyone,” her profile says. “My job and my life experiences have trained me exactly how to win. I am hungry to be out in the wild, pushing myself to the edge, and doing things I never dreamed I could do. In the end, surviving this game means something more valuable than money to me.”
In an interview with Parade prior to the show’s premiere, Patel, who’s originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said she has been married for about four and a half years. “I’m an adventure junkie, but not necessarily an outdoorsy person,” she said, adding, “I’m here figuring out who I am and how strong I am.”
She told Parade that she decided to try for “Survivor” because as a Sagittarius and “being spirited” she thought the adventure and fun, new thing would be going to a casting call at a mall.” Lo and behold, it led me to open the door into the ultimate adventure,” she said. She admitted that during the time she auditioned for the show, she was bored and tired. “I don’t really feel entirely comfortable where I am in my life, and I need to change that,” she said.
She told Parade that she feels a sense of responsibility, being the first Indian-American on the show. “I’m out here doing something that, traditionally speaking, a 37-year old married Indian woman is not supposed to do,” she said. “This is the risk I’m taking because I feel very strongly that your strength and value come from your ability to take risks and go against the grain. Not from complying with the standards your culture puts on you.”
She told Parade that as a contestant on “Survivor,” there are certain tenets of Hinduism that will be very important to remember in the game. “Hinduism has a very strong belief in detachment from material things. You find your path from within,” she said. “Hinduism also believes in being the best you that you can be. It’s the concept of dharma, your duty in life, whether you’re a wife, a student, or a ‘Survivor’ player. I’m out here practicing Hinduism when I’m being the best ‘Survivor’ contestant I can be.”